Thursday, July 27, 2017

BARU BIAN: TRUSAN DAM GO-AHEAD A BLOW FOR ADENAN’S LEGACY


PRESS STATEMENT
26 JULY 2017
  
The announcement by the Chief Minister that the government is giving the go ahead for the Trusan Dam to be built came as a surprise to many, even the SEB Chairman. We did not expect that the government would still plan to build more dams, especially since its previous policy was not to pursue any more dam-building now that Sarawak has Bakun Dam. The late Chief Minister Adenan Satem had said categorically that there is no need for more big dams, and his statement was widely reported. It appears that the words of the late Adenan carry little weight now, and the assurances made by his government count for nothing.

In the November 2014 Dun sitting, when I asked about the status of the then-proposed Lawas and Trusan 2 Dams, Minister Awang Tengah replied that ‘both dams are still in the feasibility study stage. When the projects reach the next stage full Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) will be conducted.’ To my surprise, I read yesterday that SEB Chairman Hamid Sepawi had said that the feasibility studies for the Trusan Dam were completed 4 years ago.

I would be interested to know what the actual situation is with regard to how the decision was made to build the dam, and what sort of studies had been done in the past. When even the Chairman of SEB expresses surprise, one wonders whether it was a decision made on impulse without consulting other stakeholders and experts.

In the event that the project is to go ahead, the government must ensure that proper and thorough surveys are carried out, including the EIA and SEIA statements after full consultation with the people affected.

Where there are NCR claims, the government must assure the people that they will be properly compensated. Compensation must not be based on the government’s narrow view of temuda, but on the adat of the people, which extends NCR to pemakai menoa and pulau galau.

The state government should also guarantee that the whole of the Lawas and Ba’ Kelalan areas will be supplied with grid power supply and proper infrastructure, including good tar-sealed roads.

Unfortunately, in the resettlement areas of the Bakun Dam, the displaced people have been complaining of unkept promises and many are unhappy with their new lives. The government needs to do better in looking after the interests of our rural communities.

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81’ Ba’ Kelalan






Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Lack of diversity in high judicial office

    Published     Updated
COMMENT | The appointment of the present chief justice and president of the Court of Appeal to continue in their posts after the mandatory retirement age of 66 years, plus a further six months allowed by the Federal Constitution, has understandably generated a great deal of controversy in legal circles as well as the public.

Many question the constitutionality of these appointments.

It is unfortunate that we have the highest levels of our judiciary embroiled in a constitutional crisis, when it is the apex Federal Court that routinely deals with constitutional matters.

Is it not apparent that the time is long overdue to appoint the most qualified judge from East Malaysia to fill the post of chief justice?

And is it also not equally apparent that it is long overdue for a lady judge to be elevated to the position of one of the office-holders in the judiciary? It is imperative to address the lack of a gender balance in the top echelons of the judiciary.

There are highly qualified women who are now Federal Court judges, who richly deserve the right to be considered for these posts.

Siti Norma Yaakob was the last and only lady judge of the Federal Court appointed as chief judge of Malaya from Feb 8, 2005 to Jan 5, 2007. This was more than a decade ago.
 
The judiciary, above all others, must uphold the Federal Constitution in word and in spirit.

It must reflect, in its appointment process to high judicial office, the salutary Article 8 that, all other things being equal, there shall be no discrimination on the grounds of “religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender”.

While preparing this statement, it was announced that Baroness Hale will be the first female president of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. A timely reminder for our judiciary from this fresh breeze from afar.

AMBIGA SREENEVASAN is president of the National Human Rights Society (Hakam).
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

~ Malaysiakini

Malaysians do forget easily

R Nadeswaran     Published     Updated


COMMENT | Dr Mahathir Mohamed recited a sajak (poem) entitled ‘Melayu Mudah Lupa’ (Malays forget easily) at the 2001 Umno General Assembly. After 16 years, is it still appropriate or does one word need to be changed?

Replacing “Malays” with the “Malaysians” would better describe how events and scandals of yesteryears have been consigned to the burial grounds and entombed.

But even the dead can be awakened for political expediency. After 30 years, the ghost of the foreign exchange market (forex) losses, said to run into billions of ringgit, has arisen from the grave – with hopes of it demonising the leading opposition figure, Mahathir.

So, a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) has been set up and will soon start the proceedings, in the hope of establishing a host of facts.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with this – perfectly legal. Using provisions provided in the Federal Constitution, the system allows Joe Public to have privy and access to the reasons for decisions to the commitments made by our leaders and their reasons for doing so.

But what can RCIs do? What does our government do with the findings? What happens after the findings? Will they bring about changes or will they be consigned to gather dust in some steel cabinet in Putrajaya?

There have been many, but let’s look back at just two. The first was on the VK Lingam video and the other was the RCI on illegal immigrants in Sabah.
 
In 2007, a five-man panel chaired by the former chief judge of Malaya, Haidar Mohamed Noor, examined a video clip allegedly of lawyer VK Lingam (photo) being involved in the manipulation of judicial appointments.

Subsequently, Lingam was barred from practising in 2015, but he has since challenged the decision of the Bar Disciplinary Committee, which found him guilty of interfering with judicial appointments. The case is scheduled to be heard next month.

In 2013, the former chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Steve Shim, chaired a five-man panel to investigate “Project IC”, in which citizenship was allegedly given unlawfully to illegal immigrants in Sabah during the Mahathir administration for electoral support.

'Project IC probably existed'

After hearing 211 witnesses and recording more than 5,000 pages of evidence, the panel concluded that “Project IC” probably existed. It recommended the formation of a permanent secretariat, along with either a management committee or a consultative council, to address the issue of illegal immigration in Sabah.

But the immigrant problems still continue to prosper across the porous borders between the two countries.

Against such backdrops, what would yet another RCI bring about? For a while, the proceedings will be the talk of the town, after which, it will enter into a sleep mode to be awakened when yet another scandal surfaces on our shores.
 
Can someone update Malaysians on the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp)? On July 25, 2013, NFCorp chairperson Mohamad Salleh Ismail (photo) told a press conference that Japanese company, Kirimitonas Agro Sdn Bhd, had agreed to purchase its entire shares and related companies, and accordingly take over all the assets and liabilities, including the RM250 million loan with the Malaysian government.

Two weeks earlier, the then Finance Minister II Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, told Parliament that the government had recovered RM79.9 million from the RM250 million it loaned NFCorp.

Ahmad Husni said the government also sealed NFCorp’s assets worth RM23.3 million - two pieces of land in Putrajaya, two units of real estate in Menerung Township Villa and three plots of land in Gemas.

“Out of the RM250 million, close to RM80 million has been received and RM170 million is yet to be received,” he said when winding up the debate for his ministry on the motion of thanks for the royal address in the Dewan Rakyat then.

Ahmad Husni said the Finance Ministry took three steps to resolve the NFC project controversy, namely bringing the case to court, taking over or getting back the amount owed and the assets, and finding a new company to continue the project.

And they drive around in their Porsches...

What happened to the real estate that was seized? Can someone give Malaysian taxpayers a status report on the case? After all, RM250 million belonging to the people was given in loans and surely, the least we can expect is some decent, truthful answers. No need for an RCI to tell us how the money for cattle breeding was used to buy luxury condos and property.

Almost two years ago, Mara, its associated companies and senior officials were caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They were involved in a multi-million ringgit scandal where buildings (student accommodation) in Melbourne were bought at inflated prices and the difference filtered down to some people’s pockets.

Police reports were made; the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission briefly detained a couple of people, and the Mara chairperson was replaced. So, what happened to the investigations? Have the crooks been brought to book? Some of them are driving around their Porsche cars, acting as if nothing ever happened.

The construction of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) was the biggest financial scandal in the country prior to the emergence of an entity called 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). Six people were charged and all were acquitted. But, if no one is guilty, then the question is: Where did our money go?

The government continues to service the loans taken by the developer. Even as this is written, the Port Klang Authority (PKA) owes the Treasury billions of ringgit. By the year 2051, PKA’s commitment will accumulate to RM12.4 billion. How is it going to get the money? As a regulatory body, its revenues are meagre. Did anyone think about an RCI to get to the bottom of the issue? Bottom line: The loan will be written off and we, the people will have to bear that burden.
 
There are dozens of other instances or issues that may not be of the magnitude of the forex losses but have made headlines that require some form of inquiry. The obvious one is the 1MDB, which has made headlines all over the world for the wrong reasons.
But does the government have the political will and determination to get the bottom of all these, especially the Mother of all Scandals?

R NADESWARAN is an award-winning veteran journalist who writes on bread-and-butter issues with one agenda - a better quality of life for all Malaysians irrespective of colour, creed or religion. He can be reached at citizen.nades22@gmail.com.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

~ Malaysiakini

Monday, July 24, 2017

Parliament rejects more than 30 1MDB-related questions

Zikri Kamarulzaman     Published     Updated
PARLIAMENT | Efforts to get the government to answer parliamentary queries related to 1MDB were derailed today when the Dewan Rakyat rejected more than 30 questions on the matter.

The questions ranged from whether the government would table a White Paper on foreign intervention in the 1MDB case, to the government's stance on the US Department of Justice (DOJ) 1MDB-linked lawsuits.

The Dewan Rakyat also rejected a question on whether the government would accept the return of money and assets, including jewellery, seized by the DOJ.

The mood in the House was tense when opposition MPs stood en masse to voice out their frustrations.

Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) said Parliament cannot simply reject all questions on the matter, including his request for a status update on investigations into 1MDB.

"You can't cover up (the 1MDB scandal) by stopping us from asking questions!" Gobind said.
Fauzi Abdul Rahman (PKR-Indera Mahkota) asked why his question on the government's efforts to correct negative perceptions brought on by the DOJ suits was deemed to be offensive.

"This question was deemed menyakitkan hati (hurtful to feelings). Whose feelings does it hurt?" Fauzi asked.

His question was rejected under Standing Order 23(1)(c) which states that "a question shall not contain any argument, interference, opinion, imputation, epithet or misleading, ironical or offensive expression nor shall a question be frivolous or be asked seeking information on trivial matters".
 
BN lawmakers responded by harping on Lim Guan Eng's (DAP-Bagan) bungalow scandal.
Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan, photo) said his question about the bungalow had been rejected because it was sub judice.

"But I made no noise because I accept that the speaker’s decision is final," Bung Mokhtar said.

Deputy speaker Ismail Mohamad Said told all lawmakers who were dissatisfied that their questions were rejected to file a motion to seek a review.

However, such a move has thus far proven to be unfruitful, with previous efforts to seek a review not making it to the House floor.

Previous Dewan Rakyat meetings had seen certain questions related to 1MDB rejected, but not wholesale as was the case at today's session.

1MDB is the subject of multiple overseas investigations.

The DOJ, for example, is seeking to seize more than US$1.7 billion in assets it claims were purchased using funds allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB.
 
At a press conference in the Parliament media room later, Pakatan Harapan MPs revealed that questions related to former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International were also among those rejected.

The following are some of the rejected questions and the reasons for which they were rejected.

Rejected questions
Ko Chung Sen (DAP-Ipoh) asks the prime minister:
Was he was informed beforehand on the civil forfeiture suits filed by the US DOJ to seize assets linked to 1MDB; and
Did he make an official complaint to US President Donald Trump or the US ambassador to Malaysia if the US is considered to have interfered in the affairs of this country and what was their response.

Reason for rejection
Standing Order 23(1)(g): A question shall not be so drafted as to be likely to prejudice a case under trial, or be asked to any matter that is sub judice.

Rejected question
Gooi Hsiao Leung (PKR-Alor Setar) asks the prime minister to state specific details on how our country has cooperated with the US and other international authorities that are investigating misappropriation and laundering of 1MDB funds, as he personally said the country would do so during his trip to Germany on Sept 27, 2016.

Reasons for rejection
Standing Order 23(1)(c): A question shall not contain any argument, interference, opinion, imputation, epithet or misleading, ironical or offensive expression nor shall a question be frivolous or be asked seeking information on trivial matters; and
Standing Order 23(1)(f): A question shall not seek information about any matter which is of its nature secret.

Rejected question
Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) asks the prime minister to state the status of investigations into 1MDB and SRC and what action will be taken.

Reason for rejection
Standing Order 23(1)(h): A question shall not be asked for the purpose of obtaining an expression of opinion, the solution of an abstract legal case or the answer to a hypothetical proposition.

~ Malaysiakini

Does the king have the final say on judges? Law expert wonders aloud

Does the king have the final say on judges? Law expert wonders aloud
The appointment of Md Raus Sharif and Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin as additional judges in order to extend their services as chief justice and appeals court president has sparked much debate in the legal fraternity. – EPA pic, July 22, 2017.
THE role of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in the recent use of Article 122(1A) to appoint additional judges requires a separate and fuller discussion, said a constitutional legal expert.

On July 7, the government extended the services of Chief Justice Md Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, who will serve an extra three and two years respectively.

Both men were appointed as additional judges to keep them in judicial office beyond the age limit of 66 years and six months, pursuant to Article 122(1A) of the Federal Constitution.

Universiti Teknologi Mara emeritus professor Shad Saleem Faruqi pointed to the provision that stated the Yang di-Pertuan Agong "must act on the advice of the chief justice."

"Now, must the chief justice who renders advice, be the existing chief justice? Or can it be the former chief justice advising a prospective appointment, while he was still holding his post?" Shad said during a forum hosted by The Malaysian Bar in Kuala Lumpur last night.

Present were former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram and prominent lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar.

"Unless specified otherwise, it could mean a return to absolute monarchy, whereby the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has the final say," said Shad, who holds the Tunku Abdul Rahman Chair at Universiti Malaya.

Shad further questioned whether the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's power under Article 122(1A) to appoint additional judges was a purely discretionary power or was this a "function under this Constitution or federal law" for which the prime minister's advice under Article 40(1) and 40(1A) was binding?

"Additional judges can be appointed for such purposes or for such periods as the King may specify. However, can the purpose be to occupy the position of chief justice and president of Court of Appeal?
Article 122(1A) reads: "Notwithstanding anything in this constitution contained, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong acting on the advice of the Chief Justice of the Federal Court may appoint for such purposes or for such period of time as he may specify any person who has held high judicial office in Malaysia to be an additional judge of the Federal Court, provided that no such additional judge shall be ineligible to hold office by reason of having attained the age of 66 years".

Shad also called for reforms towards judicial independence and institutional separation

"The superior civil courts are distinct from and independent of the other branches of state," he said.

"But regrettably, the inferior courts are part of a fused judicial and legal service on which JPA (Public Service Department) head and the AG (Attorney General) have significant influence under Article 138."

Under article Article138 of the Constitution, the AG chairs the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC). Prior to 1960, the Chief Justice chaired the JLSC. 

Former chief justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad had said that Article 122(1A) could not be used to extend the tenure of the chief justice.

Hamid had also noted that the appointment of the additional judge must be on the recommendation of the chief justice, which meant that the chief justice will have to recommend himself if he is to be made an additional judge.

As such, he said an additional judge cannot be the chief justice.

The government said the extensions were proposed by former chief justice Arifin Zakaria before he retired on March 30.  

Bar president George Varughese had called the appointments of Raus and Zulkefli as unprecedented, “troubling” and “blatantly unconstitutional”, pointing to five violations of the constitution in the extension of the two judges. 

The Malaysian Bar will hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on August 3 at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall to get a mandate from its members before deciding on its next legal action. – July 22, 2017.

~ The Malaysian Insight

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Nearly 36% of varsity students think graft is okay, says survey

Nearly 36% of varsity students think graft is okay, says survey
A majority of students in institutions of higher learning have a high comprehension of what constitutes graft yet many have no problems with it. – EPA pic, July 19, 2017.
AT least a third of public university students today believe that graft is morally acceptable and does not constitute a crime, according to a survey conducted by the Malaysian Institute of Integrity (IIM).

Other findings from the survey, which IIM said was conducted “recently”, were just as alarming – nearly a third of students believe there is nothing wrong with stealing office supplies while a fifth had no problems with nepotism. 

Of the 402 respondents, 33.1% are from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia (47.5%), Universiti Teknologi Mara (15.9%) while the rest from unnamed public universities (3.5%). 

The survey found that:
* 35.8% believe that the receiving gifts in the form of money, goods or services for services rendered is not a form of bribery.
* 28.1% believe it is not wrong to take home office supplies, such as thumb drives, toner and paper, for personal use. 
* 37.3% believe that filing outstation claims, despite accommodation being provided by other sponsors, is morally acceptable.
* 20.6% believe that actively appointing family members for vacant positions in a government department is morally acceptable. 

“The results are a concern,” said IIM CEO Dr Anis Yusal Yusoff in a statement today, adding that the country’s education might need “rethinking”.

“A majority of students have a high comprehension of what constitutes graft.

“We are concerned, as many of these students are about to receive their degrees and enter the workforce. Some of them may become leaders in their workplace of their communities. They are the leaders of 2050,” he added.

“If these are the results from our undergraduates, what hope do we have for those who are less educated?”

Anis said the findings should not be disregarded.

“Our younger generation is the future... What hope is there when they blatantly said they have no problems with what is generally considered as bribery?”

IIM was founded in 2004 by former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. It is to conduct research on good governance in public institutions. – July 19, 2017. 

~ The Malaysian Insight

Two French execs charged with graft over Scorpene sale

Published     Updated

French investigators have charged two former top executives with corruption over alleged kickbacks from the 2002 sale of two Scorpene-class submarines to Malaysia, according to sources close to the long-running inquiry.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today that the two are Phillippe Japiot, former chairperson of French naval dockyards unit DCNI and Jean-Paul Perrier (in photo above), former chief executive of the French defence and electronics giant Thales.

It also reported that one of the sources said Japiot has also been indicted for “abuse of social assets” and Perrier for “complicity in the abuse of social assets.

The investigation was launched in 2010, after a complaint was filed by Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) in France in November 2009.
 
The investigation was to determine if a former president of French defence group, Thales International Asia, had paid kickbacks to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak via his former close associate, Abdul Razak Baginda, for a contract to supply two Scorpene submarines to Malaysia.
Najib was defence minister when the sale of the two submarines took place, through a joint venture between Thales and fellow defence company DCN.

Razak Baginda, Najib and former Thales president Bernard Baiocco have denied the allegations.
From 2001 to 2007, Japiot headed DCNI, the international branch of France’s naval shipbuilding operations, which last month changed its name to Naval Group.

~ Malaysiakini

Suhakam wants Putrajaya to intervene in K'tan public whipping bill

Published     Updated

The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has called on the federal government to intervene in Kelantan's move to introduce public whipping for syariah offences.

Suhakam chairperson Razali Ismail said the federal government must ensure that "human rights are respected throughout the country".

Razali said caning was a "cruel, inhuman and degrading" punishment that violated prohibitions against torture in human rights treaties that Malaysia had signed.

"Caning should not be part of our criminal justice system as it has no rehabilitative potential," he said in a statement today.

Last week, the Kelantan state legislative assembly unanimously passed the Syariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2002 (Amendment 2017) Bill, which will, among others, allow for public whipping as a punishment.
 
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said that the bill should be seen as only applying to Muslims in Kelantan.
Razali, however, said that religious laws applied in states must adhere to Malaysia's human rights obligations.

"States such as Kelantan cannot invoke provisions of national law to justify non-compliance with their obligations under international law," he said.

Suhakam has called on both the federal and state governments to review all criminal justice laws to ensure a repeal of any provisions which contravene international human rights laws.

~ Malaysiakini

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Not true syariah laws won't be imposed on non-Muslims

Ravinder Singh     Published     Updated

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said public caning only applies to Muslims in Kelantan and not to non-Muslims, and there are voices telling non-Muslims that they have no business commenting on it.

Interestingly, even some Muslims don’t believe that it will not apply to non-Muslims. Among them is Azrul Khalib, co-founder of the recently formed Civil Rights group Bebas, who said he was not convinced that the ruling would only affect Muslims as claimed by Zahid.
This is corroborated by the statements of the Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin that hudud, when implemented, must apply to all for, otherwise, it becomes an unjust law to the Muslim who is punished while his non-Muslim partner, companion or accomplice, or any non-Muslim committing a similar offence, is not given the same punishment.


So, what’s the purpose of the flogging law? Azrul claimed that the move was about imposing control over Malay-Muslims. “In my opinion, these religious authorities are deviating from the real purpose (of syariah law). The issue here is all about exerting control on the Malay-Muslim community.”

Non-Muslims, therefore, have a right to comment on the public caning law as the hidden intentions, as seen through Asri’s statements, are clear - the same punishment must be meted out to non-Muslims for syariah laws to be fair to the Muslims. So please stop telling the non-Muslims to remain silent on the Damocles’ sword hanging over their heads.

If the religious-political leaders and their supporters honestly believe that the simplistic, knee-jerk action of public caning will cause the so-called un-Islamic Muslims (those who commit syariah offences) to change into good Muslims overnight, then they are very naïve indeed about the process of character development of human beings.

This would be most surprising for in Malay culture there is an age-old saying, “Tatkala lagi rebung tiada dipatah, ketika sudah jadi aur apa gunaknya”? What this means is that if you have not moulded one’s character while one was a child, it is worthless trying to do so when one has become a matured adult. And it is this worthless thing that public caning is trying to do! For what? Political show-off of "power" and "will" to do things to win accolades and blind support of the gullible who look upon religious leaders as demi-gods?

Acting blindly under cover of religion is not the way of moving forward. These “rehabilitation” experts should instead be looking seriously into moulding the character of children at kindergarten and primary school levels and not allow undisciplined behaviour during this age to become gangsters in secondary schools and full-fledged criminals in adulthood, and then trying to beat them back into shape with public caning.
Our forefathers who coined the saying “Tatkala lagi rebung tiada dipatah, ketika sudah jadi aur apa gunaknya” were full of wisdom derived from experience. Today we have “experts” who make laws based on perceptions or dreams for some personal gains for themselves and not for the public good.


I am sorry to say it, but though our schools have religious and moral education classes, and these are even compulsory examination subjects, how much of the religious and moral values taught in theory are actually practised in the very same classrooms and schools even if the children are scoring As in the examinations? And nothing is being done to check this deplorable state of affairs. It is not public caning that will create a better “civilized” society, but moulding the character of children while they are very young will go a long way towards that end. This used to be done by the schools of the 50s and 60s and most of those children were different kind of adults from most of those who went through school after that, that is, the kind that religious leaders-politicians say need public flogging to try and re-shape them.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Educators, students face challenges with dilapidated schools

 | July 16, 2017

Minister Michael Manyin says teachers must remain committed for the sake of students’ future.
Michael-Manyin-school-sarawak-student 
PETALING JAYA: Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Michael Manyin said educators and students in Sarawak are facing many challenges, among them run-down and dilapidated schools.

“Such schools are a letdown to teachers who are committed to their profession, who are hardworking and guide their students to do well,” The Borneo Post quoted Manyin as saying.

He said teachers who aimed for excellence deserve better conditions but financial constraints could be a setback.

“We understand the dilapidated conditions facing teachers, but they should not use that as an excuse not to do a good job in educating students,” Manyin told the media at the Padawan district-level Teachers’ Day celebration at SM Sains Kuching yesterday.

There are 1,454 schools in Sarawak, of which 1,020 are dilapidated and 415 in critical condition, said Manyin.

“Another constraint is many schools in Sarawak are under-enrolled,” he said, adding that the education ministry defined under-enrolled schools as those with less than 150 students.

 “Students studying at under-enrolled schools are usually deprived of specialist teachers, so English or Bahasa Malaysia teachers are asked to teach subjects they are not qualified in,” Manyin said.

He said such teachers could not be blamed if students did not have an interest in certain subjects, such as Mathematics, right from Primary 1.

He added that such under-enrolled schools did not have a competitive environment as some classes had only two students.

“These under-enrolled schools in the same area should merge to get a combined student population of 200 to 300.”

“To date, there are 651 merged schools in the state, the majority of which are in rural areas,” he said.

He said parents and YBs (elected representatives) should support this suggestion to merge for the
sake of the next generation.


“If we don’t merge, the situation will remain and worsen over the next two to three or 10 years.”
Present at the event were the state Education Department’s management and academic sector chief Salbiah Seman, Padawan district education officer Bihud Apok, Padawan district deputy education officer Chong Choi Ling, and SM Sains Kuching principal Setia Ken.

~ Free Malaysia Today

Malaysian Bar wants MACC to be reformed


Noel Achariam
Malaysian Bar wants MACC to be reformed
Bar Council president George Varughese calls on the government to reform the MACC into two bodies, an Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (IACC) which provides oversight, and Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), the enforcement arm. – The Malaysian Insight pic, July 16, 2017.
THE Malaysian Bar is calling on Putrajaya to amend the Federal Constitution to set up an "Independent Anti-Corruption Commission".

Bar Council president George Varughese said that the IACC should comprise a group of commissioners that will provide oversight to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) which will be renamed the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA).

"We have proposed this to the government two years ago, however we have yet to receive any feedback from them. If they want to discuss the memorandum further then we can do that," he said at the 8th anniversary memorial of Teoh Beng Hock and a forum on reforming MACC.

The public forum was held at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.

Varughese said the aim of reforming MACC is to strengthen it as a corruption-combating institution.

He said that the IACC will operate as constitutional oversight and supervisory body that will oversee the operations and the ACA will be the enforcement arm of the IACC.

"We suggested that at least 40% of the commissioners in the IACC be made of members from civil societies who have relevant experience in the fight against corruption.

"The parliamentary select committee (PAC) on corruption will propose the names of the commissioners and it will be decided by voting, from all the parliamentarians.

"The commissioners should also have security of tenure from dismissal. The removal of a commissioner can only be carried out by a tribunal drawn by the PAC," he said.  

Varughese also said that the IACC will be responsible for the appointment, promotion and discipline of ACA officers.

Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said current legislation is inadequate in checking corruption in the country and therefore needs to be reformed.

"MACC is weak and needs to be reformed with the IACC. We need to look into the legislative, good governance and human rights issues.

"We need more people to come out and fight for change even though we face a lot of barriers," she said.

Maria said that the only way forward for reform is for the public to keep voicing their concerns.

"Institutional reform is very important and at the same we need to see the bigger picture.

"We should not only be focusing on MACC but also look at reforming the police and Attorney-General’s Chambers," she said.

Earlier, Teoh's sister Teoh Lee Lan, said the family will continue to seek justice for her brother.

"The MACC admitted that Teoh did not commit suicide eight years ago and they have admitted their negligence.

"We have demanded an answer from parliament but to no avail. Each year we remember Teoh and we will continue to tell everyone that his case is not over yet," she said.

Other panelists at the forum were Hulu Kelang assemblyman Saari Sungib and Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy board member Ngeow Chow Ying. – July 16, 2017.

~ The Malaysian Insight

Umno should just ban all non-Malay political parties

S Thayaparan     Published     Updated
“A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.” Henry A Wallace

COMMENT | Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak claimed “the opposition coalition can never match BN, which has a track record of cooperation between the different ethnic groups and tolerance between its leaders, without compromising party principles”. This brings us to the question of what exactly are Umno’s principles.

We know from the National Civics Bureau (Biro Tatanegara, BTN) courses that Umno’s principles are an unholy brew of racial supremacy, religious bigotry and corporatism that was endorsed by a compliant Malaysian polity, resulting in a cascade of religious and racial issues that compromised every facet of government. With the ouster of the charismatic, jailed political prisoner – Anwar Ibrahim – from the Umno fold, the contemporary Umno narrative is one of loss of power and influence by attrition.

The Malay vote is the most important vote to Umno. I wrote about how the dialectic in the Malay community is a threat to Umno hegemony, which is the real reason behind the racial and religious sabre-rattling. This is the existential threat Umno is facing – “what would happen if a majority of Muslims in this country decide that they have had enough with state religious authorities intruding into their lives? They have had enough with money going into religious organisations while essential services that benefit their community are underfunded and mired in bureaucratic corruption. What would happen if they grew tired of the hypocrisy of the state where Muslim elites were immune from the harsh glare of Islam but the rest of the polity was not?”

While the non-Malay component parties of Barisan National scramble to discover their relevance in a post-Pakatan era, the reality is that their days of being handmaidens to Umno warlords are over. Most non-Malay opposition supporters have realised that it is better to have no representation in an Umno Parliament than the compliant non-Malay representation that the traditional mainstream component parties represent.

Just a couple of articles ago, I asked what can the MCA do for Umno – “the answer to that is MCA obviously cannot do anything much for the ruling BN coalition anymore. How do you remain relevant when you have lost your voting base? Umno does not need MCA to win elections. The dodgy meme that the current Umno prime minister is a “minority” prime minister is as fallacious as the so-called 'Chinese tsunami'.”

The split in the Malay polity

The Chinese community has borne the brunt of the dark art form of the propaganda warlocks of Putrajaya, but what has really rattled the Umno hegemon is the split in the Malay polity. While their former master strategist – Dr Mahathir Mohamad – has thrown in with the opposition, the only viable Malay/Muslim political party left is PAS. And those folks are really kooky.

When you have Umno members, ministers and the prime minister claiming that the Chinese would usurp the power of the “Malays” if the opposition ever came to power, this is the very definition of racism. When you claim that “Islam” is under siege by make-believe non-Islamic bogeyman, this is the definition of religious bigotry.

Because the Registrar of Society (ROS) is playing coy with the DAP by not officially asking them to hold re-elections and there is an established chain of events that point to a conspiracy between the executive and a public institution, the only conclusion any rational person can make is that Umno and ROS are acting mala fide against the DAP.

When you consider the racist rhetoric coming out of Umno power brokers, government ministers and government institutions, the religious bigotry from the same, Umno should just drop this charade of democracy and ban all non-Malay/Muslim political parties. This way, the Malay community, or least that section of the Umno voting base, will not have to be encumbered by the existential threat the non-Malays supposedly pose to their “bangsa” and “agama”.

If banning the DAP is not enough, they could also partially ban PKR, since it has non-Malay members and this could possibly pose a threat to Umno/Malay hegemony. However, even if you ban non-Malay/Muslim political parties, the problem persists in that the non- Malay polity will still vote.
If non-Malays vote, what is stopping non-Malays from voting for opposition candidates who do not support the policies of Umno? If the Malay vote is split, then non-Malays, especially in the urban areas, may cast their vote for independent non-Malay candidates. So, perhaps the answer is banning all non-Malay/Muslim candidates.

But – and this is an important “but” – non-Malays who do not have a choice of non-Malay candidates may vote for Malay candidates who do not support the polices of the ruling hegemon. These Malay politicians may become proxies to non-Malay interest and in this way, subvert the policies of “bangsa” and “agama”.

This would also mean that the utilitarian value of the non-Malay component parties would be non-existent. If it is true that non-Malays would rather have no representation than representation of BN component parties, then the fig leaf of inclusion could be discarded. There would be no need to govern by consensus. Instead, Umno could rule by fiat.

This would mean that, in order for Umno to safeguard the “Malays” and “Islam”, the only candidates that should stand for elections are those Malay candidates who support the policies of Umno as they relate to “bangsa” and “agama”. But how does a political hegemon ensure that people vote in the “correct” way?

More importantly, how does the hegemon ensure that the “correct” candidates stand for elections?
So, what Umno really needs are only Malay candidates who support its policies and a voting public that would vote the correct way. There are only two options, as I see it.

(1) Umno could give the illusion of choice and have various Malay political parties that are, in reality, just another head of Umno like the mythical hydra; or

(2) Just cancel democracy and have members of Umno vote in their candidate.

Of course, by this time there would be no need for the non-Malay vote and by this, I mean that non-Malays would not have the vote.

As long as Umno members continue their racist and religious bigotry against the DAP and, by extension, all non-Malays, these are the only two options to the logical conclusion of our fascist end.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

'Learn from Orang Asli, not just help them'

Vinodh Pillai     Published     Updated
Changing our educational system to recognise the Orang Asli and to desist from treating them as if they are subordinates is the first step to co-existing with the indigenous community.

Doing so is also an important precedent, as we have much to learn from them, and not the other way around.

This was one of the points raised during discussions at a talk on the commendable morals of the Orang Asli communities.

The talk, "Materially Poor, Morally Rich: The Orang Asli, Malaysia's First Peoples", was delivered by professor Alberto Gomez, a seasoned anthropologist, to a crowd of more than 50 people at Sunway University on Friday.

Gomez has been studying the Semang and Semai people, two ethnic aboriginal groups in Malaysia, since the 1970s.

Having stayed with these communities in the past, he reflected: "Instead of teaching indigenous people like the Orang Asli, we must make them our teachers.

"There is much we can learn from ways they relate to their fellow humans and the natural environment."

This includes solving global problems such as climate change, racism and even violent conflicts.

Five fishes, sense of reciprocation

Gomez recalled how he had once observed Orang Asli villagers giving fish to one another.

"One family collected five fishes and gave four other families one fish each. This went on until the five families (who were doing the same thing) had collected five fishes each.

"I asked the first family, "Why not just keep the fishes for yourself, since you got five fishes in the end anyway?"

This question was simply disregarded by the villagers, Gomez said.

It was this spirit of generosity and reciprocity that formed the cement of these relationships, which other community members could learn from as well.

Gomez also said the Orang Asli would first seek blessings from the deity of the land before plowing or building works were done, as a respect for Nature.

"The people can take up the practices and beliefs of the Orang Asli, and adopt them into their own lives."

He also painted a slightly different story of what the Orang Asli go through when their forests are cleared.

"(Imagine) your social identity being so intimately connected to the land, that if you were to change it (by clearing the forest), you would be (removing) visible, concrete connections that you have in history.

"A walk into the forest is a journey into their past."

Gomez further claimed that clearing the forest was tantamount to wiping out a museum, or going to the British archives and destroying them.

Respect and understanding

Missionary workers who visit Orang Asli villagers should not be saying they were there to help them.

"(They) should be going to learn from them, not wanting to help them. The exchange must be made through mutual respect," Gomez said, and he went on to debunk an often used saying coined by Charles Darwin.
 
"The concept of 'survival of the fittest' is (wrong) as later editions of his (Darwin's) work claimed that the fittest species are the ones who cooperate, and are more likely to survive."
Asked how he would strategise on this, Gomez remarked, "That's why I'm standing here."

He likened having dialogues and conversations like this to a small hammer chiseling away on a massive wall that had been up for years, an analogy similar to breaking ice blocks to start conversations.

"I remain quite hopeful and optimistic, as there have been many positive changes taking place in the past (in this regard)," he said.

'Moderate' PM courts flak for endorsing 'racist' BTN

Published     Updated
It would be hypocritical for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to champion moderation while at the same time endorsing the National Civics Bureau (BTN) which is perceived to be promoting racism, said Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto.

"While he advocates the idea of 1Malaysia, particularly during the 2013 general election, being the founding father of the Global Moderate Movement, a self-praising defender of the concept of 'wasatiyah' or moderation, the prime minister continues to fan the flames of separatism and discrimination by feeding the monster of racism under his very own nose, disguised as the BTN in the Prime Minister's Office," she said in a statement today.

Patto was responding to Najib who yesterday praised BTN and said the agency was relevant to ensure victories in future general elections.

He had said that BTN had specific objectives of moulding Malaysians to ensure the continuity of the government's leadership and hold on power.

"This statement of using (or misusing) the BTN for political continuity is a reflection of the arrogance and high-handedness of Umno-BN to abuse government machinery to cling on to power.

"Has Najib misplaced his moral compass or is he bankrupt of ideas, ways and means to win the next general elections legitimately that he has to dip his nib into the potent pot of racism, bigotry and hatred to draw up a malignant plan that will further keep alive 'divide and rule' racial politics that will cement Umno-BN as a government for decades to come," said Patto.
 
She added that BTN, despite being publicly assigned the task of nation-building, had done the opposite.
"It is an open secret that the BTN has done nothing to promote tolerance, professionalism, fairness and patriotism and instead has been dancing to the tune of Umno-BN in propagating the likes of supremacy, racism, divisive policies and all that contribute to the destruction of a cohesive, just, fair society in Malaysia.

"After 36 years, it is without a doubt that the BTN has failed in nation-building, which ironically falls in line with exactly what Umno and their leaders have been fighting for," she said.

Patto urged Najib to disband BTN if his 1Malaysia slogan is genuine.

If Najib does not, she added, Harapan will do so if it captures Putrajaya.

"There is no place amongst peace loving Malaysians in a Malaysian Malaysia for BTN to continue to exist," she said.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Anwar, Dr M on top of Harapan's finalised line-u

Published     Updated
Pakatan Harapan has finalised its coalition logo and leadership structure, after months of negotiations.
PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim will be the coalition's de facto leader while Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be Harapan chairperson.

The following is the coalition's leadership line-up:
  • De facto leader: Anwar Ibrahim (PKR)
     
  • Chairperson: Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Bersatu)
     
  • President: Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (PKR)
     
  • Deputy presidents: Muhyiddin Yassin (Bersatu), Lim Guan Eng (DAP), Mohamad Sabu (Parti Amanah Negara)
     
  • Vice-presidents: Azmin Ali (PKR), Mukhriz Mahathir (Bersatu), Chong Chieng Jien (DAP), Salahuddin Ayub (Amanah)
     
  • Treasurer: M Kulasegaran (DAP)
     
  • Secretary: Saifuddin Abdullah (PKR)
The decision was announced by Mahathir at a press conference following the coalition's meeting at the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya, just after midnight today.

He was flanked by Harapan party leaders, each holding the coalition's new logo.

Mahathir said the coalition will finalise other details in its constitution before submitting its registration to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) in about a week's time.

Concessions made

Harapan was supposed to have finalised its structure months before, in order to register the coalition with the ROS.

However, the decision was postponed in order to obtain feedback from Anwar over Bersatu's proposal.

Bersatu had reportedly made concessions, agreeing that Wan Azizah would be the president of Harapan instead of Muhyiddin.

However, Bersatu was adamant that Mahathir should be made chairperson.

Asked if this means Anwar will be the coalition's prime minister candidate, Mahathir said a pardon process will be pursued by the coalition once it comes into power.

There will be an interim prime minister before Anwar, he said, because the legal process for Anwar to re-enter politics could be a long one.

Asked who will be the interim PM, Mahathir said an announcement will be made later.

"We will announce who the seventh PM will be, but today we will only announce the eighth one," he said.

~ Malaysiakini